|August 8, 2012|
Previously published on July 2012
Transparency International (TI) has launched an Assurance Framework for Corporate Anti-Bribery Programmes (the “Framework”). The Framework is TI’s latest anti-corruption tool for companies to assist them in designing robust anti-corruption programmes that are based on good practice and, in doing so, build the trust of the full extent of their stakeholders.
The Framework is drafted in line with TI’s Business Principles for Countering Bribery and the World Economic Forum’s PACI Principles for Countering Bribery, two leading anti-bribery codes. It also underwent a public consultation period prior to its publication.
In a press release, Jermyn Brooks, TI board member and chair of TI’s Business Advisory Board, said: “Stakeholders are seeking greater credibility for companies’ anti-bribery measures. The Assurance Framework will help businesses to demonstrate that they have in place systems that are well designed as well as assisting them to benchmark and improve their anti-bribery programmes.”
In order to enhance the quality and credibility of its anti-bribery commitments, a company may, voluntarily, use the Framework as part of an assurance process carried out by an external assurance practitioner. The assurance practitioner would consider a set of 22 “control objectives” and supporting control procedures, and form an overall opinion which he would provide to the company’s board/management in the form of a written report.
Independent and standardised compliance measures have been the subject of much discussion in recent months, as companies seek to meet the expectations of their business partners, stakeholders and enforcement agencies. In November 2011, the British Standards Institution (BSI) launched a Standard (BS 105000) for an anti-bribery management system (the “Standard”) and successful pilot studies have since been completed.
Compliance with the Standard will help companies demonstrate to both internal and external stakeholders that appropriate procedures are in place to prevent bribery. The Standard is currently a national document but, given the international nature of many UK businesses, it is likely to be developed into an international management standard in due course.
Both initiatives, the Framework and the Standard, are in line with Principle 6 of the MOJ guidance about procedures which relevant commercial organisations can put into place to prevent persons associated with them from bribing (the “Guidance”). Principle 6 of the Guidance states that “some organisations may be able to apply for certified compliance with one of the independently-verified anti-bribery standards maintained by industrial sector associations or multilateral bodies.”
These developments highlight not only that independent assurance is an effective way of demonstrating that robust anti-corruption compliance procedures are in place but also that companies are increasingly choosing to involve external consultants to review their compliance programmes.
This trend towards assurance goes hand in hand with the demand for anti-corruption programme certifications from stakeholders. More and more, stakeholders are seeking greater transparency around corporate anti-corruption activities to mitigate the risks of financial and reputational damage caused by perceived or actual corruption.
However, certification can only go so far. As Principle 6 of the Guidance points out “such certification may not necessarily mean that a commercial organisation’s bribery prevention procedures are ‘adequate’ for all purposes where an offence under section 7 of the Bribery Act could be charged.”